CRÈME DESIGNS RETAIL SHOP WITH PRIVATE TASTING ROOM FOR MICHELIN CHEF
Korean ethos culminates in Little Banchan Shop + Meju, recently opened in New York’s Queens district.
CRÈME, the award-winning, Brooklyn-based design and architecture firm led by designer and architect Jun Aizaki, expands their portfolio of design projects to include two unique spaces influenced by Korean cuisine for Michelin Chef and owner, Hooni Kim.
Little Banchan Shop offers a variety of prepared “banchan”—the collective name for small side dishes served alongside Korean food—in addition to soups, stews, marinated meat to cook at home, and a selection of made to order dishes.
Meju, the hidden, private tasting room based on traditional Korean fermentation gives Chef Hooni Kim the space to uniquely prepare these ingredients for a seven-course tasting menu, offered three times a week, for up to eight guests at a time.
And the interior is an absolute gem.
The glass facade as the storefront window allows natural light to fill the space, while a neon sign highlights the chef’s counter.
The design team, led by Design Director Kohji Kawabata, utilizes light wood, enhancing the colourful banchan.
Emphasizing the verticality of the space, geometric displays and decorative spiral lighting
hang from the ceiling above.
Fridges and pastel coloured shelving located on both sides of the space provide an abundance of storage for a rotating selection of prepared banchan packaged in sturdy, resealable pouches.
Limited counter seating is available for dining in.
Corridor that connects the shop with Meju, a striking private dining space
Meju, an ambient speakeasy-esque private dining room, is named after the bricks of dried, fermented soybeans that are essential ingredients in producing the jangs, sauces and pastes that serve as the foundational flavour of Korean cuisine.
Led by Chef Hooni Kim, Meju is connected to Little Banchan Shop by a hidden door at the
end of a corridor that showcases a semi-circular ceiling mural consisting of a pastel palette by New York City-based Korean artist, Suzy Kim.
Light fixtures located on both walls highlight the ceiling mural, transitioning ambiances from fresh and casual to sophisticated.
A walnut door consisting of a traditional Korean pattern opens to Meju with a grand chandelier, showcasing Chef Kim’s stage on the rectangular shaped centre island with green marble, surrounded by a limited offering of eight seats for a tasting-menu-only experience.
Layers of chandelier rings and rods that support the fixture, along with rustic wall tiles and round shelves represent Meju’s fermenting process.
The centrally located lighting fixture evokes an abstract essence of blossom.
Enhancing the atmosphere, CRÈME incorporates antique brass and dark walnut throughout.
Vertical trims and circular antique mirrors inspired by old castle windows open the space, allowing for guests to see Meju from various angles.
“We are honored to have had the opportunity to work with Chef Hooni Kim, and embrace the occasion to design two spaces that are very different, and yet completely complementary.
The Chef always brings a global perspective to his work – we wanted to reflect that and create spaces that project the same openness and warmth by using a diverse blend
of colours, materials, and architectural details.”